Gibbon’s Decline and Fall/ posted in: Reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall by Sheri S. Tepper
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New Mexico
A wave of fundamentalism is sweeping across the globe as the millennium approaches, and a power-hungry presidential candidate sees his ticket to success in making an example out of a teenage girl who abandoned her infant in a Dumpster. Taking the girl's case is Carolyn Crespin, a former attorney, who left her job for a quiet family life. Now she must call upon five friends from college, who took a vow to always stand together. But their success might depend on the assistance of Sophy, the enigmatic sixth friend, whom they all believed dead.
In 1959 a group of college freshmen bonded over making a very beautiful girl look ugly in order to help her avoid male attention. Part of her disguise was carrying Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The women call themselves the Decline and Fall Club.
Now it is the year 2000. The group still gathers annually.
Bettiann– A former beauty queen who became anorexic. She married a rich man and spends her time on charities.
Ophy – She became a doctor in an inner city ER.
Jessamine – She is a PhD who works with primate behavior.
Faye – a famous sculptor
Carolyn – a lawyer who is coming out of retirement to handle the case of a teenager who was gang raped, got pregnant, and is accused of murdering the resultant baby.
Agnes – She always wanted to be a nun but was required to get a MBA before joining in order to develop a company to make the order self sustaining. She is now Mother Superior and has been ordered by her bishop to hand over her business to local men because it isn’t proper for women to have jobs.
Sophy – Probably Native American but she would never confirm that. Traveled the world collecting women’s stories and wrote books. Disappeared three years ago but everyone else in the group thinks that they are being haunted by her.
The world in this version of 2000 has been very violent. Gangs of men are in the streets trying to shame women whom they consider to be immoral. However, slowly people are starting to notice that violent crime is dropping. The divorce rate is going up. Rapes went up sharply and then decreased. What does this have to do with Sophy’s disappearance and bands of old ladies vandalizing fashion stores?
I love Sherri S. Tepper’s books. They are wonderfully, wholeheartedly, unashamedly feminist books. If you like Margaret Atwood, consider reading Tepper. I recommend The Fresco for a starting point in her books.
Sort of Spoilers
The end of the book offers a discussion what you would choose of the following options:
- Heterosexual couples bond in monogamous pairs and can reproduce once every decade if they choose
- Females become able to reproduce without men like some lizards
- Puberty is delayed so only mature adults are able to reproduce
- The world is similar to now but women can only get pregnant if they make a conscious decision to allow it
- Keep the world the way it is now
What would you choose and why?
I would choose option 1. That eliminates all the drama between people over sexual attraction and fidelity and keeps the population down.